Learning the ropes at Aventura Nature Adventure Park in Dubai
Why just stroll lazily through nature when you could be climbing, scrambling, tree-surfing, walking a tightrope, crawling up a web and flying along a zip line instead?
In an effort to combine the benefits of spending time in the great outdoors with the health benefits gained from engaging in a family-orientated activities, Dubai residents Hadi Fakhoury and Lina Malas have brought Aventura, a Spanish adventure-park brand, to Dubai.
Although there are already a few indoor obstacle courses in the UAE, this 35,000-square-metre adventure park – in the ghaf forest at Al Mushrif Park in Mirdif – is the first outdoor facility of its kind in the country.
The desire to create an obstacle course in the heart of nature stems from Fakhoury’s fond memories of “monkeying around” with his children at similar adventure parks in other countries.
“We had done this in Spain and did a lot of outdoor challenges when we lived in the United States,” he says.
“We wanted to bring the same opportunity to be sporty and interact with nature to Dubai. There is plenty of research about the effect of nature on health – we want people to get out of their office and off their couch to be outdoors and one with nature.”
The park has 85 activities – including rope walks, log balancing, ladders and ziplines, the longest of which is 160 metres long and 10m high – split into six circuits, based on age of participants and difficulty level.
The Discovery and Rangers circuits are designed for children, while the Explorador activity is an easy course that can be done with the entire family. The Aventura, Thriller and Xtreme circuits are more challenging, with 10-15 obstacles each, plus ziplines.
About 15 instructors and guides are spread throughout the park to assist with the more challenging climbs and activities, or if someone is stuck on an obstacle.
Every participant is also given a 20-minute, compulsory briefing about the harness and safety equipment, and how to navigate the courses.
This involves a demonstration on how to attach and unclip the harnesses. The company uses the click-it system carabiners that doesn’t allow players to unhook completely from the protective metal rods at any time.
The fly along a zip line process and how to get off it is also explained, after which the instructors ask guests to practise a few times on a test ground before deciding what difficulty level they want to try.
Spirit of Aventura
Participants with moderate fitness levels are recommended to start off at the Aventura level, which is rated four on a rising difficulty scale of one to five, so that is where I started.
You can choose to take an easy ladder climb to the first ledge, which is a few metres high, or push yourself by scrambling up the spider’s web.
From there, participants have to brace themselves for a walk on a tightrope, an air walk across crossed logs, a sideways rock climbing wall and a few zip lines to the end, all while being fastened securely to the safety rods.
Getting used to the clipping and unclipping of the climbing carabiners becomes second nature as one progresses through the activities.
“Each course is a combination of 12 to 15 obstacles and zip lines,” says Fakhoury. “They are created to be challenging yet fun. So to achieve that level of excitement, you have to work a little.”
If you are an outdoor-sports enthusiast who gets a thrill from heights, the Thriller course will not disappoint.
Made up almost entirely of zip lines – nine of them, from 50m to 160m in length – this challenge, though fairly easy, provides a rush of adrenalin as you fly through the air, 10m above the ground.
The zip lines in this course go all around the forest, giving a breathtaking, unobstructed views of the eastern side of the forest from among the ghaf trees.
Going to Xtremes
Players who sign up for this course will have to do the Tarzan Jump, a 25-metre leap of faith to get from one side of the obstacle to another. Most of the circuit is between five and eight metres off the ground.
“The Xtreme is the most difficult course we have,” says Fakhoury. “There are a bunch of games but the most exhilarating one is the Tarzan Jump, which is situated at the west side of the park.”
The family-friendly park has an active zone for children over the age of six and above 1.15m in height. There are 19 obstacles, which are closer to the ground – about 2 metres up – than the more daring courses.
The route is designed in a way that parents can assist their children as they make their way through the park.
The developers will also be opening up a fun activity area for children as young as three in the coming months.
This course has been created as a family-bonding experience, which requires parents and kids to work together as they navigate it.
The 17 rope and ledge walk obstacles, at a height of two to three metres, will work up a sweat but are not too difficult to overcome.
Work, rest and play
One part of the park is reserved for corporate and team-building events.
“Here, we have seven or eight installations, which aren’t too difficult but have been set up with the aim to get corporate teams to work together and for developmental programmes.”
Park-goers who want to skip the high-intensity workout on the courses completely can opt to simply take a stroll in the park and watch the daredevils, or if even that sounds like too much effort, relax with refreshments at the cafe that is set to open this month.
Updated: January 18, 2017 04:00 AM